Judge tosses football-throw citation

A San Diego Chargers fan found himself in front of a traffic judge last week after he was cited before a game for breaking the city's code against "launching a solid object" outside Qualcomm Stadium.

Jesse Unger was approached by police in the parking lot as he tossed a football with fellow tailgaters before the Chargers hosted the Indianapolis Colts last month.

An officer had told Unger to stop as he sought to enforce a rare rule in place at three NFL stadiums, the 27-year-old Under told the U-T San Diego website.

After he continued, thinking the officer was joking, Unger was cited and told the fine would be $60. But Unger, who says he holds a graduate degree in mechanical engineering, discovered online the cost would actually be $280, and he decided to take the matter before a judge in the Clairemont Mesa Traffic Court.

Turns out, he wouldn't need much of a defense for the ticket, which cited "playing ball" as the infraction.

"Hmmm, now this is an interesting case," said the judge, according to the San Diego news website.

San Diego Municipal Code 59.0502 says pedestrians in the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot can't "intentionally throw, discharge, launch or spill any solid object (including footballs, baseballs, frisbees and other such devices) or liquid substance or otherwise cause subject or substance to be thrown, discharged, launched, spilled, or to become airborne."

It's a mandate also in place at LP Field in Tennessee, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and CenturyLink Field in Seattle, according to the U-T San Diego report.

Unger said the judge told him if he pleaded guilty, he would suspend the fine.

"I plead guilty to throwing the football, Your Honor," Unger said.

The judge then quickly dismissed the case and, according to Unger, used it as an opportunity to briefly analyze the problems with the Chargers' offense.

The judge's verdict? It's all in the running game.